Trudeau says he remains 'open' to electoral reform if Liberals re-elected

·3 min read

RICHMOND HILL, Ont. — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Saturday that he remains open to getting rid of Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system if his party is re-elected, but added that it's not a priority since there's no consensus on the issue.

Trudeau said, however, that he would not favour proportional representation as an alternative, saying the system "gives more weight to smaller parties that are perhaps fringe parties."

Trudeau instead expressed his preference for a ranked ballot system, saying such an approach contributes to less divisive elections.

"I have always been a fan of ranked ballots where people get to choose first choice, second choice, third choice," he said during a campaign stop in Aurora, Ont. "I think it forces parties to come together and make a pitch to be the second choice of other voters and therefore they are less divisive."

The Liberal leader first raised the prospect of electoral reform in 2015 by promising that the federal election held that year would be the last to use the first-past-the-post method, a pledge he would ultimately renege on.

Trudeau added Saturday that moving forward with electoral reform was "not a priority" since there was still no consensus among political parties on the issue.

"If ever there is more of a consensus, it could be interesting to follow up on and I'd be open to that, because I've never flinched in my desire for ranked ballots," he said.

Trudeau was asked about the issue shortly after his party announced it was cutting ties with a Toronto candidate who previously faced a sexual assault charge that was later dropped.

The party said Friday it had learned of the allegations against Kevin Vuong through a report in the Toronto Star a day earlier, and had asked him to "pause" his campaign.

But the party released a statement on Saturday saying Vuong won't be a Liberal candidate anymore, and if he's elected to represent Spadina-Fort York on Monday, he will not be a member of the Liberal caucus.

Vuong denied the allegations against him in a statement Friday, and noted the charge was withdrawn. He did not immediately respond to request for comment on Saturday's developments.

When asked about the issue on Saturday, Trudeau said the party had followed the processes in place and had "come to the conclusion this individual can no longer be a Liberal candidate in this election."

He also said his party would continue to improve its candidate vetting process to avoid similar situations in the future.

With only two days before Canadians head to the polls, Trudeau clearly wished to keep his attention firmly fixed on the battle for last-minute votes.

Under sunny skies, he blitzed through a series of stops in Ontario -- buying honey at a farmer's market in Newmarket, doing some lawn bowling in Richmond Hill and dropping by a campaign office to urge volunteers to "go flat out" to get the vote out.

"Knock on doors, talk to your neighbours," he urged them.

At most stops, Trudeau was greeted by friendly crowds who swarmed him for selfies, with the occasional protester or heckler throwing insults from the outside.

Over and over, Trudeau repeated his party's promise to fight climate change and promote vaccines, and insisted Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole would "take Canada backwards."

Trudeau has been coy in recent days about his own post-election future, saying that he wants to concentrate on Monday's vote and not engage in speculation.

But on Saturday, he said he's not done with putting forward his agenda on issues such as climate change, affordable child care and protecting seniors, adding he's enthusiastic "not only for the days to come, but the years to come together."

"There is lots of work still to do, and I'm nowhere near done yet," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 18, 2021.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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